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Comment Contradicts the definition of copyright infringeme (Score 3, Interesting) 88

The entire reason Jammie Thomas-Rasset was ordered to pay $222,000 was because she purportedly uploaded 24 songs to thousands of people. She was distributing the songs without a license from the copyright holder - something Copyright law expressly prohibits. In other words, by using copyright law crafted to stop wholesale copyright infringement, Capitol Records cast Ms. Thomas-Rasset as the mastermind of a bootleg music business and won a judgement of $222,000 against her. That judgment effectively indemnifies people who downloaded music from her uploads. She paid for the crime, not her "customers". When you shut down a counterfeit CD ring, you do not then go after the people who bought the illegitimate CDs.

If you throw all that out the window and instead argue that it's the act of downloading a song which is infringement (which current copyright law does not support), then this becomes really easy. Each downloader becomes liable for a single copy (the one they downloaded). And an appropriate fine would be, say, 3x or 5x the cost of buying the song from a legitimate source. So about $3-$5 per song. Frankly I think that's a much more sensible approach to copyright enforcement than ruining people's lives and depriving them of Internet service because they shared some music files.

But I suspect the *AA is going to want their cake and eat it too, and want to assess hundred-thousand dollar judgments against downloaders as well. This is a slimy and illogical (should be illegal) tactic of turning n crimes into n^2 crimes. If 10 people share a file and each copyright violation costs $100, then there are a total of 9 illegal copies made, and the total damages should be $900. But by the *AA's nonsensical reasoning, each person is responsible for 9 counts of copyright violation, so each person should pay $900, resulting in $10,000 in damages awarded. The math simply doesn't add up - they'd be getting $10,000 in court awards when the law has determined that they've only suffered $900 in damages.

You can't have it both ways. Either one person is liable for all the copyright infringement and you can ruin them financially. Or each person is responsible for a single copyright infringement (the file they downloaded) and you can only fine them a few times what it would've cost to buy the file legitimately.

Comment Re:Why? (Score 2) 893

The hippie solution doesn't work because even if you can convince 99.99% of people to be peaceful, that remaining 0.01% can still send the world into nuclear winter.

You need some sort of hybrid approach, where you convince easiest 99% of people to be peaceful, but retain enough military capability to dissuade the remaining stubborn 1% from doing anything nuts. Which is more or less what we're doing today. Except some of those pursuing the hippie part of this hybrid approach have deluded themselves into thinking their approach will work on the entirety of the remaining 1% just because it worked on the first 99%.

That's what hippies don't seem to understand. Even if you temporarily achieved 100% indoctrination into a peaceful, cooperative society and completely disarmed. It just takes one person to be born who thinks differently and builds his own devices and following in secret, and spreads chaos and ruin upon that idyllic and disarmed utopia. You must have some sort of defense against this in reserve. Always. I don't particularly blame hippies for making this mistake - people tend to think that others will act as they themselves do. So if it's beyond their conception as to why someone would want to kill and destroy in order to have power over (parts of) the world, then it will literally be inconceivable to them that someone would ever want to do this. But that doesn't change the fact that it's a bad assumption.

Comment Re:Laying cable (Score 1) 189

I'm running into the same problem trying to get cable modem service to my business. The building currently doesn't have cable service.. The nearest location the cable company can extend service from to wire up our building is only about 1000 ft away, but they're estimating it'll cost them $14.5k. Most of that cost is in drawing up the plans and submitting it to the city so they can get permits to dig up the street to lay down new cable. You don't incur these costs when maintaining existing lines. They estimate the cost of sending a crew out to actually dig up the road, lay down the cable, and patch up the road will only be a few thousand.

Comment Re:I own one... (Score 1) 114

Most everything you're complaining about is on the government, not VW. Basically the situation you're describing is like buying something from a store and paying sales tax, finding out it's defective, returning it for a refund, and the government refuses to reimburse you for sales tax initially paid, and then tries to tax you when use the refund to buy a replacement product.

They shouldn't be able to have it both ways - either tax the initial purchase or the replacement purchase, but not both. But logic goes out the window when it comes to government and taxes. I'm even reading that some states will try to charge income tax on the buyback amount. Basically making you pay income tax on a refund.

Submission + - Apple removes ESC key new Macbook "Pro" ( 2

fyngyrz writes: The Mac "Pro's" ESC key, used by many at the console / shell level, has apparently succumbed to overwhelming... courage. Er, design intent. Yeah, that's it. You have to admit, Apple is brave. No console-friendly person will be happy with this. I suspect that will be true to a degree where they'll be happy with... something other than a Macbook "Pro." BTW, those aren't "scare" quotes. Those are "no, wrong word" quotes. I could have gone with "pro[sic]", but... oy. Oh. And hey. You didn't want function keys, did you? Of course not... Okay, one hopes these missing features will at least sometimes, possibly, appear on the new touch bar, there to blunt the ends of your fingers as they use a key-striking habit to stomp on a touch surface.

Comment Re:Companies keeping records... (Score 1) 157

The way it should work: Bob wants to buy something from Frank. To facilitate this, he gives Frank his personal cell phone number. Mary wants to contact Bob. She finds out Frank has his cell phone number, so asks Frank for it. Frank calls Bob, says Mary wants his cell phone number, and asks for his permission to give it to her.

The way it currently works: Bob wants to buy something from Frank. To facilitate this, he gives Frank his personal cell phone number. Mary wants to contact Bob. She finds out Frank has his cell phone number, so asks Frank for it. Frank says he'll give it to her for $x. Bob has no say in this.

We need something like patient confidentiality rules for business transactions. If you need personal info about me like my name, age, phone number, address, SS number, location, where I went to college, what I like to buy, whatever,. so that we can conduct business, that does not give you a blanket license to sell said information to someone else without my authorization.

Comment They weren't late, they just completely blew it (Score 1) 239

The failure of windows phone had nothing to do with 'developer engagement'. Simply put they were far too late to market to compete with the already established iphone & Android.

A lot of us had PDAs back in the 1990s. A lot of us also had cell phones. It didn't take a genius to figure out that having one device which worked as both a cell phone and PDA would be really nice, if for nothing but to reduce the amount of clanking going on in your pocket. So it was pretty obvious by the mid-1990s that cell phones and PDAs were going to converge. The only question was if PDAs would get phone capability added on, or if cell phones would get PDA (computing) capability added on.

The late 1990s is when this convergence began. Nokia (a phone manufacturer) was first out of the blocks, which cemented their dominance of the early smartphone market. Palm came out with the Kyocera 6035 and Treo in 2001/2002. The smartphone-ish Blackberry didn't show up until 2003.

Microsoft was right in the thick of this. Since 1996, They'd been competing with PalmOS with WinCE (which became Pocket PC which became Windows Mobile which became Windows Phone). They had enough foresight to add software hooks for phone support to Pocket PC 2000, but never put much effort into the hardware side. For some reason they never took this PDA-phone convergence seriously. Apparently they were too busy thinking up with new names for their mobile OS than to work on phone hardware integration. I remember when the Jornada 928 came to market just in time to compete with the Palm Treo in 2002, reviews panned it calling the phone functionality buggy and unreliable. For all the evils of the old Bell Telephone monopoly, one thing they got right was "It Just Works". Your electricity could be out after a storm, but your landline phone would still work. That's what people were used to and expected. An unreliable phone was dead before it even hit the market.

So Microsoft wasn't late to the market. They were right there at the beginning of the smartphone market and had ample opportunity to dominate it. They just blew it. I suspect someone high up in their management chain, maybe even Gates himself, didn't believe this phone-PDA convergence was going to happen.

Comment Re:Role Reversal (Score 2) 39

Somewhere along the lines, these roles were reversed.

I think it happened right after the end of the Cold War. During the Cold War, we had a bogeyman - trumped up but still a bogeyman. We would point to things that happened in the Soviet Union like excessive government intrusion into people's private lives, and proudly proclaim that that sort of thing could never happen here. Anyone in our government who even breathed a suggestion of it would be branded a commie and instantly torpedo their career.

The Cold War ends, the poster child for an authoritative government run amok disappears, and suddenly everyone in our government who always those authoritarian powers but were too scared to try to ask for them come crawling out from the shadows.

Comment Re:That's a lot of water to generate in a day (Score 1) 156

2000 liters/day is a lot. About how much a U.S. family of 4 uses. You can make do with a lot less. India is around 130 liters/person-day. So I suspect this is more a one per 100-300 people concept, meant to provide potable water (drinking and cooking) so existing water sources can be used for things like bathing and laundry. That would help avoid things like the arsenic poisoning fiasco caused by relief agencies drilling fresh water wells in Bangladesh.

Comment Re:Please use 'bokeh' in a more useful way (Score 1) 50

The technical term is a point spread function. A lens with good bokeh will have a PSF which falls off smoothly the further you get from the center (like a bell curve). Bad bokeh is produced by a rapid falloff (or even increases) at the edges (looking sort of like Gibbs phenomenon).

Note however that due to geometry, the PSF in front of and behind the focal plane are conjugates. If the PSF concentrates rays towards the center behind the focal plane for a pleasing bell-curve like falloff, then those center-skewed rays must deviate further from the center when in front of the focal plane thus generating harsh edges. So good bokeh behind the subject means bad bokeh in front, and vice versa. I'm not a big fan of computer-generated bokeh, but this is one advantage it has over real-world lenses.

Comment Re:Strangest argument (Score 1) 112

There are actually three stances here, not the two you're implying.
  • Can't ban something because it generates a lot of money.
  • Ban something regardless of how much money it generates.
  • Some things that make a lot of money are worth banning, some things shouldn't be banned regardless of making a lot of money.

As for the money-making activities you've cited, those are banned because their productivity generation is a net negative. The money the sex trafficker or cocaine dealer or ransomware author makes is less than the cost paid by the other party (sex slave loses freedom, drug addict suffers degraded productivity, ransomware victim should never have had to pay ransom). One party is making money at the expense of the other.

Legitimate business activities like, say, drone manufacturing are a net positive. The revenue the drone manufacturer gets from selling the drone is more than their cost in parts and labor. And the money the drone purchaser makes from the utility or enjoyment of using the drone exceeds the purchase price. Both parties benefit from the transaction. Until some government floozy decides because some screwdrivers can be used to help pick locks, that all screwdrivers should be banned. Except for very rare cases, bans should be on activities, not on tools which can be misused.

Comment Re:Accessibility options (Score 4, Insightful) 325

A lot of sites break if you try to zoom in or change the default fonts. Word wraps don't align properly. Letters start to overlap pictures or sidebar menus.

The entire concept of the WWW as Berners-Lee conceived it was that the website would transmit information to the client, and the client's browser would display it in a format most suitable for the client display device. That way the exact same web page would work on a tiny cell phone screen or gargantuan 50" 4k TV used as a screen. Neither of those existed at the time, but he had enough foresight to predict a wide variation in client display sizes and requirements.

But the people who became web designers were formerly page layout designers. They revolted. They were used to printed paper, where they controlled everything the reader saw - fonts, font sizes, text wrap around photos, columns, etc. Their ego couldn't stand ceding some of that control to the reader, so they fought tooth and nail to bring that control back to themselves. The early flash-only websites were their first salvo. Everyone hated flash sites, but they loved them because it would display exactly and only as they designed it. If the 1024 pixel width they chose didn't fit in someone's 800x600 monitor? Well obviously it was the reader's fault and they needed to upgrade to a better GPU and monitor. Modern websites are so design-centered that they actually have to create two different sites for display on large computer monitors vs small phone and tablet screens. There's almost nothing left under the client's control that can be modified without breaking something about the site.

Comment Re: fallacy (Score 1) 175

Weather and climate models aren't some arbitrary curve-fitting; they're physically based using ridiculously detailed physical simulations of air movements and ocean currents, starting from an observed state and running the simulation forward.

Just because a set of predictions is based on a physical model does not necessarily make it a better set of predictions. Physical models are still hypotheses, in that the basic premises behind the model and even the construction of the model itself have not been demonstrated as an accurate representation of reality. It is not until the model turns out accurate predictions that are significantly better than random that the hypothesis stands a chance of being correct.

I'm a reservoir engineer for a large oil and gas company, and we actually avoid using physical models/simulations like these to book reserves because of how horribly they perform. Third-party reserves auditors also make this recommendation. And it's not like the oil and gas industry hasn't invested a tremendous amount of money into the best-performing forecasting methodologies available. But they are held to a much stricter standard of performance simply by way of return on investment.

Comment Re:Set up correct secondary DNS servers (Score 1) 345

Wouldn't it be subject to the same weaknesses of cryptocurrencies -- namely that an enormous amount of energy has to go into otherwise useless computation, that anyone with sufficient computing power can assert that they have the correct blockchain, and that the blockchain quickly becomes large and unwieldy?

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